How birth rates can be influenced by economics

Birth rates have been relatively stable over the last 20 years in the United States – while there is some variation, it is nothing like comparing the birth rate today to the birth rate in early 1900s. Additionally, the United States has a relatively high birth rate compared to many industrialized nations.

However, new data suggests the birth rate may have been affected by the economic crisis:

The birth rate, which takes into account changes in the population, fell to 13.5 births for every 1,000 people last year. That’s down from 14.3 in 2007 and way down from 30 in 1909, when it was common for people to have big families…

The situation is a striking turnabout from 2007, when more babies were born in the United States than any other year in the nation’s history. The recession began that fall, dragging stocks, jobs and births down…

Another possible factor in the drop: a decline in immigration to the United States.

On one hand, deciding to have a child is a very personal decision – the United States has no official guidelines about this and people are free to do what they wish. On the other hand, there are a whole host of social factors that influence this decision including economics, cultural background, and social pressure to conform to existing and changing norms.

A few days ago, the Chicago Tribune highlighted the issue in Illinois.

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